can you recycle wrapping paper?

Not long to go before Father Christmas visits us and plys us with gifts.

I don’t know about you but every year I feel increasingly uneasy about the amount of landfill waste generated.

This week, for example, I learned that we’ll use 227,000 miles of wrapping paper over Christmas.

It’s such a huge figure, it’s kind of meaningless, but I’ve been trying to imagine how many trees that might look like, how much water, how much transportation, how much glitter and toxic colours…

I’ve also learned that it’s a postcode lottery as to whether or not you can recycle wrapping paper…

But less of the pessimism. Zero Waste Week is all about being part of the solution and I’ve been wracking my brain cell for some wrapping paper alternatives:


Little Miss green commented on how nice presents can look wrapped in newspaper and I have to agree. We’ve done this for years and let’s be honest, we’re interested in what’s inside, right? Just use the freebie that comes through the door each week or scavenge from a neighbour if you don’t buy your own.

Brown paper

Yes it’s still paper, but wrapping paper is non recyclable, so at least by using brown paper the recipient can recycle after use. Brown paper can look stylish and simple when tied with rafia or get your kids to put handprints all over them for something a bit personalised.


One of favourites here at zero waste towers, furoshiki is the Japanese art of wrapping gifts in fabric. There are numerous tutorials across the internet that will teach you how to tie fabric to look like animals, handbags, crackers – you name it, you’ll find it. The fabric can be reused year after year.

Gifts within gifts

Why not wrap the gift in a scarf, tea towel or cloth bag? That way the recipient gets two presents for the price of one and nothing to put in landfill. it’s a win-win!

What about you? How do you reduce wrapping paper waste? And can you recycle wrapping paper in your area?

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Rachelle Strauss


  1. Mary DeBoos on November 8, 2019 at 8:11 am

    What inks / paints can you use to decorate brown paper that still means it is recyclable?

    Many thanks

  2. Beth on November 20, 2019 at 9:02 pm

    Yes same question! If we use standard ink for hand prints etc will it still be recyclable?

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